Wild life officials quickly tracked and killed the animal believed to have attacked the men.
A cougar attacked two mountain bikers in Washington state Saturday morning, killing one and seriously injuring the other man. The biker who was killed fled into the woods to get away from the cougar after the initial attack and the animal chased him down, officials said.
The cougar was found standing over the man’s body, reported USA Today, before it ran from wildlife officials.
A 100-pound male cougar, three or four years old, was tracked down with the help of two dogs and killed by wildlife officials. It was 50 feet up a tree and 50 to 200 yards from where the man’s body had been found, Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Fish and Wildlife police told the Times. The cat is being tested to make certain it was the same animal that attacked the men.
The cougar attack occurred on an isolated mountain road near North Bend, about 30 miles east of Seattle.
The injured biker was airlifted to a Seattle hospital with serious injuries, but his condition was later listed as satisfactory, according to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office.
He was attacked first, then jumped on his bike to get to an area where he could get cell phone service to call for help.
The cougar “jumped the first victim and attacked him,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the sheriff’s office told The Seattle Times. “The second victim turned and started to run away. The cougar saw that and went after the second victim. The first victim saw his friend being pulled by the cougar. He got on his bike and started to bike away.”
Abbott said the man rode for about two miles before he could make a call.
“When the deputies and medics responded, it took them about 30 minutes to locate the second victim. He was deceased. The cougar was standing on top of him,” said Abbott.
Officials have not released the names of either man.
A man in the area provided reporters a video of a cougar he had spotted recently in the same area. Officials said it could not be determined if it was the same animal, given that there are a number of cougars in the region.
Cougar attacks on humans, and particularly fatal attacks, are rare. Since 1890, cougars have attacked people fewer than 100 times, according to the nonprofit Cougar Network, and about 20 of those attacks have been fatal.
The last time a human was killed by a cougar in the U.S. was in 2008 in New Mexico, according to The News Tribune in Tacoma. The paper said that the last fatality in Washington state apparently was in 1924.
A mountain biker’s partially eaten body was found in 2004 in Southern California on the same day another biker was attacked in the same area.